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RAR December Newsletter

 Hi RAR members

For refugees and people seeking asylum, and their supporters, 2022 in Australia has been a difficult year, but progress has been made.


At the start of the year, the brief immigration detention of leading tennis player Novak Djokovic at the Park Hotel helped our movement's efforts to highlight the situation of hundreds of refugees detained there and in other hotel "alternative places of detention" (APODs). The release from the APODs of the refugees who had been brought to Australia from offshore detention under the 2018 medical evacuation law accelerated. By April the Medevac refugees were out of the APODs, although some are still in detention centres.


In March, the Morrison government announced 16,500 additional refugees places for people fleeing Afghanistan. However, we're conscious - especially our national working group and the member groups that are working on sponsorship for refugees trying to come to Australia - that few Afghan refugees from the Taliban have got here so far. The decade-long re-orientation of the immigration department into "Border Force" has wrecked its capacity to serve people and we have to keep on at the government now to reverse this.


The purportedly immovable LNP government was moving as it stared down the barrel of election defeat. But I think voters proved to be wise to cheap tricks: they took what was on offer and moved on.


Under the new government, the news that Priya, Nades, Kopi and Tharnicaa were able to return #HometoBilo and gained permanent residency was cheering. But that other refugees, on temporary visas, who Labor promised permanent visas during the election, are still waiting at year's end is trying. That well over 10,000 other people who are seeking asylum here, because their claims for asylum have been rejected, or because of how they came to Australia, are not being offered permanent settlement at all is troubling. Our movement has been supporting permanent visas for all, with #HometoBilo turning its strength to this campaign.


RAR members can be proud of the achievements of our September national conference (thanks to the organising group in the Blue Mountains). I believe it has been the only in-person grassroots national conference in the movement since the pandemic began.


The conference saw those with lived experience play a leading role. It was an inspiring experience, which carried forward and tested out ideas, found in the Katoomba Declaration, that our movement can try to change the story about refugees in this country and seek to change policy across a broad range of issues. Copies of the Katoomba Declaration and the Conference Report are attached (and can be found on RAR's website).


I believe that might be the basis for a more united, more powerful and more far-reaching movement, for which November's Canberra Convergence and Palm Sunday marches and rallies, to be held in early April 2023, could represent green shoots.


Voluntary Contributions


What RAR has achieved in 2022 and can achieve in 2023 is primarily the result of the time and thought people give to our member groups. I'd like to celebrate the efforts of the National Committee's members in offering some coordination and guidance as well.


But can I mention we also need some resources to make that happen. RAR does not have a membership fee: at our AGM this year we again resolved to ask if members can make voluntary contributions. Can you please consider having a discussion of what your group might be able to put in at your first meeting next year.

Best wishes to everyone for the festive season and I look forward to working with you for justice for refugees in the new year.

 In solidarity


 National President


Rural Australians for Refugees on Twitter and Facebook 

RAR is a member of the Australian Refugee Action Network
Rural Australians for Refugees